Friday, November 22, 2019

The Road to Golgonooza, part 1

Reading a lot of jam comics, one can discern characteristic tropes, rhythms, and vicissitudes. I think that makes the comic jam a unique genre any cartoonist might choose to work within. 

Here's the first third or so of my new comic running in The Brooklyn Rail. It plays with the comic jam and its sister genre, the biographic profile. I try to change styles two or three times per page, mashing up various artists who interest me. I don't feel I do justice to any of my influences, but it's fun to try. I hope you'll find this amusing or at least not too annoying. 


Page one: M.C. BloV8, logo and anagrams, recently had a career retrospective at NYC's Fugitive Gallery. He can be reached care of Singsing.

Chris M. Otterson, panel 1, is at work on a series of Tijuana Bibles inspired by the classic Man from Nantucket books. Check his instagram for a preview: @cmot15

Gonzo Loretta O'Hagood, panels 2-4, received this year's Pini Award for her webcomic, Ginger Duck and her Barnyard Friends.

Page two: Cassie Motswald, panels 1 & 2, hosts the monthly Captain Crayon's Crap-Art Contest at T. Martooni's. Her Instagram: @cmot15

Jacqueline Pharmakos, panel 3, is best known for her psychedelic set designs off off Broadway in Helter Skelter, the Musical, but she also makes comics.

M. Isaac Cartozia, panel 4, chronicles the adventures of Conan Doyle, Barbarian Detective at

Page three: Cyndi Rizzo, former show runner for Vivian Girls Anime, is hard at work designing rides for the spinoff park, Darger World.

Illustrator Stevens Valmor blogs at

Cookie Motowan's weekly strip, Hump Day Dump Tay, is seen every Wednesday by subscribers to The Artlink Letter. Instagram: @cmot15

Page four: Medea Starkers is a package designer for Condign Desserts, LLC.

The team of Motte & Bailey serialize the adventures of the Putti Patrol in The Christian Youth's Fundament. Instagram: @cmot15

T. Motley is the author of The Road to Golgonooza, a fake jam comic.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Inking Comics Techniques: Tone Map and Thatch Hatch

by student Victoria DeMaria

One of the projects we get into in my Inking Comics course is a Noodling Worksheet, where students try out a number of rendering methods such as feathering, hatching, cross hatching, stippling, scribbling, trap shading, and more.

Let's take a good look at a couple of the more esoteric techniques, thatch-hatching and tone-mapping. You'll see that they open up broader discussions of illustration philosophy and art history.

pen strokes like a basket weave. From Alex Nino's adaptation of Moby Dick

Thatch hatching is a way to establish textures and gradients with a controlled, deliberate look. Practice with this opens up the habit of varying stroke directions to register plane changes, and to assert edges by abutting tones.

Jack Clifton explains the accented line approach, from Manual of Drawing and Painting,  1957

This has been a primary rendering method  since the earliest woodblock prints.

I couldn't resist sharing this Terry Gilliam sendup of Durer.

It was used widely in the era of the pulps.

from Spicy Detective Stories, circa 1936...

...artists unknown, I regret to say. 

The term tone mapping comes, as far as I know, from animation, though it wouldn't surprise me to learn painters have done this along, as it can resemble paint by numbers.

from Disney's Fantasia

As a direction to cel painters, tone mappers would use a blue or green pencil to delineate breaks from a form's base color to its highlight color, and a red pencil from the base to the shadow color.

Never to be outdone, maverick comic artist Jim Steranko shows his deftness with tone mapping in Our Love Story #5, 1970.
This approach was brought to the foreground in the psychedelic 1960s when artists like Peter Max filled tone maps with vibrating and unexpected colors.

Sci fi illustrator Mike Hinge made beautiful use of the technique in the 1970s.

Ink illustrators evolved a variation in the 1970s. Instead of wild colors, why not fill the tones with crazy patterns or underlayed images?

these examples are by Gonzalo Mayo from Eerie #66, 1975.
Will Eisner and Wallace Wood, 1952.

The overall effect is like peering through a reflection in a window onto a darker background. We see this memorably in the design of the Marvel character, Eternity.

Steve Ditko, 1965.

Techniques like these come in and out of fashion and turn up from time to time. We can't escape feeling that they haven't yet achieved their fullest potential. They seem ripe for a comeback. What would you bring to them?

The fall semester of Inking Comics runs on Fridays, beginning Sept. 20. Come hone your skills!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Amazing Art Models

One of the perks of living in NYC is the high quality of art models around town, and one of the perks of teaching is that the best of them model for SVA. Planning this post, I discovered that I have so many great examples to show, I think I'll make this the first of a series.

Cacia Zoo is, deservedly, a social media rockstar. I was honored to have her pose for my Figure Drawing for Cartoonists class last spring. The feeling was apparently mutual. She thanked me on her Instagram, "Your ink drawing is amaaazing! Hope to model for you again some time."

Below are my drawings of Cacia from Drink and Draw NYC a few years ago. More of my Cacia drawings can be found here.

Greer Samuels brings an intense theatricality to his poses. When he saw these drawings I made in my Figure Drawing class this summer, he felt vindicated for his hard work. Life drawing is a truly collaborative process.

When model Ume saw my drawings of her at Drink and Draw NYC not long ago, she invited me to take part in her upcoming exhibition, 30 Bodies, which will be a pop-up show opening Thursday Sept 19 at 7pm and on view through Friday Sept 20 at Con Artist Collective, 329 Broome St. Work by 30 artists will be auctioned and proceeds donated to a charity that brings artists to Puerto Rico.

Below are some of my Ume drawings from Drink and Draw. I actually played with color for a change. More can be found here.


These and many more amazing models appear in my classes Figure Drawing for Cartoonists and Inking Comics. I'll post more examples soon, I hope. Classes are enrolling right now and begin in mid-September. The information session is, well, tonight (Aug 20).

Come draw with us!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Cartooning Camps for Kids

I'm teaching a couple of cartooning camps for kids this summer.
The first is a weeklong "mini camp" for grades 3-8 at Hootenanny Art House, afternoons in late July.
The second is a two week camp for grades 3-5 in the mornings at Parsons, early August.
Tell your kids and your friends and your friends' kids.
Thank you.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Demonstration Drawings

I asked a second grader to name the character for me.
Some of my most expressive work seems to happen when I'm lecturing and demonstrating techniques (as I've shown before).
a demo for kids at PS 372

Lessons I give in my Cartooning Basics course are usually, ahem, tested on children first. If kids can master an art concept, adults probably can too.

Whiteboard sketch done at Parsons Pre-College Academy
A similar lesson at SVA

This was to demonstrate ink wash.
This too.

 As you see below, many of the lectures veer well beyond the basics and into fairly esoteric territory.

a demo on the Lexicon of Comicana

Comic strip structure and cartooning from display letters

#8 in a series of Daredoodle warmup exercises 

Adult classes start next week at SVA. Sign up asap.
I'll also be teaching kids grades 5-8 at Hootenanny Art Annex in July and grades 3-5 at Parsons in August, and I'm available for lessons and such:

of course you would.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Student Spotlight: Spring Roundup #3

More artwork has come in from my students:
Howell Murray did a great job in the recent Figure Drawing for Cartoonists course.
Above is his take on the improv comic assignment, and here's the finished page from his final project:

Mrig Mehra's final page turned out pretty awesome, don't you think?

Charles Truett is kicking ass on his amazing new comic, Hank Van Brunt Delivers the Mail.

And Joe Wessely continues working away at his studies and cartooning practice. I run into Joe at area life drawing sessions which, as I teach, is the shortcut to mastering drawing skills.

Summer classes begin in about a week. Come cartoon with us!